Online shoppers are being urged to complete their Christmas orders early this year as big retailers have brought their deadlines for deliveries forward.
Currys, Superdry and the White Company are among the firms experiencing delivery delays, or have announced earlier cutoff dates for orders to arrive in time for Christmas.
Many retailers are concerned about the potential for disruption and delays over the festive period because of Royal Mail strikes and a shortage of seasonal workers.
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David Jinks, the head of consumer research at ParcelHero, says: “The clock is certainly clicking down for final online order dates in time for Christmas. That’s not being helped by strikes and a shortage of seasonal workers, such as warehouse operatives and delivery drivers, post-Brexit.”
Royal Mail workers are set to take industrial action on Sunday, as well as on 14, 15, 23 and 24 December. The postal service has told customers to post parcels and letters earlier than usual to ensure delivery before Christmas.
In many cases shoppers will have to place orders earlier than usual, particularly if they want to use standard delivery options.
Superdry has apologised for delays and warned that standard deliveries were taking up to 14 days to arrive, compared with the usual two to five. Parcels delivered via Evri (formerly Hermes) are taking up to 10 days.
At the time of writing, Currys’ last order date for standard delivery of “small items” was 18 December, although it was not clear whether that has changed this year. Its website featured a warning that it was “currently experiencing delivery delays in some areas”.
It emerged last Sunday that the electrical goods retailer has dropped Royal Mail as its delivery provider “for now” to avoid being further disrupted by the strikes.
The White Company, a clothing and homeware retailer, confirmed it had moved its standard delivery deadline. Christmas orders can be placed until midnight on 19 December, according to its website. The final date for orders sent with next-day delivery, costing £7.95, is midday on 22 December.
Courier firms are also facing delays because of an increase in demand and a shortage of workers.
Evri has apologised for delays, saying: “Like everyone in the sector, we are experiencing higher than normal volumes driven, in part, by the Royal Mail strikes, as well as final-mile staffing shortages in some local areas.”
Jinks says other retailers are likely to change their Christmas order deadlines: “Our strong advice is: don’t leave your online orders until the last minute. Delays are escalating. If you are trying to take advantage of last-minute bargains, they are likely to get even better in the new year as retailers scramble to get rid of old stock. If you are just putting your online shopping off, don’t dither.”